Types of Dental Implants: Overview & Comparison

Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
Last Modified:

Table of Contents

  1. Compare at a Glance
  2. Types of Implants
  3. Dental Implant Methods
  4. Questions to Ask
  5. Caring for Dental Implants
  6. References

Your adult teeth are made to stay in your mouth for the rest of your life. But injuries could take one or several of your teeth away. Poor oral care could remove more. And diseases such as cancer could also prompt tooth removal.

When you're missing one or a few teeth, you could use removable devices like dentures to fix your smile. Or you could opt for dental implants, which permanently change your mouth.

Implants are common, as 3 million Americans have them. But you may never spot them, even when someone smiles or laughs. When created properly, an implant looks and feels natural.

Several types of dental implants exist. And your dentist can use different methods to place your implants too. We'll cover all the details here.

Compare at a Glance

Types of Dental Implants: Overview & Comparison
Implant typeEstimated CostSurgery TypeRecovery Time
Endosteal$3,100 and $5,800 (single); $10,000 or more (multiple)Single- or two-stage surgeryLengthy (two surgeries)
Subperiosteal$50,000 (including your dentures)Single-stage surgeryBrief
Mini$1,500Single-stage surgeryBrief

Types of Dental Implants

Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant can significantly improve your quality of life. But which type of implant will you have? Your dental professional has three to choose from: endosteal, subperiosteal, and mini.

You'll know what type of implant your dentist feels is best long before the procedure begins. But understanding what each version can do will help you participate in this important choice.

Endosteal Implants

You have a strong, healthy, and thick jawbone, but your teeth aren't attached strongly or at all. Your dentist can use an endosteal implant to attach a false set of teeth to your healthy jaw. Your doctor might use them to replace one or several teeth.

Endosteal implants are typically made of titanium, and they look a little like a screw. A porcelain-type tooth attaches to the top of that screw, and it looks just like your natural tooth.

These implants are remarkably durable. For example, 86.9 percent of implants lasted for 10 years or more in a study of people who had oral cancer.

Subperiosteal Implants

Your jawbone isn't healthy, and you have few of your teeth left. You may not be a good candidate for endosteal implants, but subperiosteal versions could be just right for you.

An implant like this is ideal for people with thinning jawbones. If you've lost healthy tissue due to disease, your doctor may not have enough left behind for drilling. Dental tools could damage or even snap your jawbone.

These implants sit underneath your gums, right above your jawbone. Artificial teeth can attach to the bits poking above the gumline. Or your doctor can use the emerging posts as anchors for your dentures or other appliances.

Mini Dental Implants

Mini dental implants are also called small- or narrow-diameter implants.

As the names imply, these dental appliances are very small. They're about the size of a toothpick. Mini implants are typically used to hold dentures in place.

Mini implants screw into your jaw, just like their larger cousins. But since they are so tiny, your dentist can place them quickly with a relatively minor procedure that doesn't involve a long recovery.

Replace missing teeth with dental implants, and you'll have a permanent and stable device that perfects your smile and several types of dental implants are available.

Dental Implant Methods

Your oral health sets your implant timeline. If you need multiple teeth replaced or addressed, you'll need more time with your professional than if you have one or two problems to fix.

Doctors use staging techniques to ensure you get the smile you want.

Single-Stage Implant

In a single-stage subperiosteal implant procedure, your doctor will do the following:

  • Make a long incision. The cut will extend for the length of the implant, and it might measure an inch or more.

  • Place the implant. The device sits on or above your jawbone but not inside of it. No drilling is involved.

  • Stitch your gums. The incision is knitted back together and heals.

  • Begin attachments. Your doctor can connect your dentures to the device, or you could use the implant to connect a bridge or crown.

In a single-stage endosteal implant procedure, your doctor will do the following:

  • Your doctor drills a small hole into your jawbone and screws in a post.

  • Your doctor keeps a tiny cap visible above your gum line. Your tooth can screw onto this post.

  • Your doctor can attach the restoration when your gums heal with no secondary surgery.

Single-stage dental implants are ideal for small issues, but a procedure like this is also preferable, researchers say, when people are frail. Only one oral procedure is required.

Two-Stage Implants

If you choose two-stage implants, you'll have two surgeries. The procedures typically work like this to place an endosteal implant:

  • Step 1: The doctor makes a small incision in your gum and drills the post into the jaw bone. The doctor closes your gums with a few stitches when the device is in place.

  • Step 2. After a wait of 4 to 6 months, while your bones are growing around the post, you come back for a second surgery. Your doctor cuts the gum open once more and installs an abutment and crown.

You won't walk around with missing teeth. Your doctor will offer temporary dentures that you'll wear while your mouth heals.

In studies, researchers suggest that a two-stage approach is best for people who don't heal quickly. You need time for your body to accept the post and grow around it. A two-step approach may also be preferable, they say, if you are missing all of your teeth.

Dental Appliance Assistance

You're using something like dentures or bridges to perfect your smile. How can implants help? A permanent implant screwed into your jaw works like a guide for your appliances so they don't shift out of place or fall out of your mouth.

Mini implants and subperiosteal implants can be used for the following:

  • Dentures

  • Partials

  • Bridges

You may need a few days of healing before you put in your appliances.

Questions to Ask Before Implant Surgery

Your doctor has recommended some type of dental implant. What should happen next?

Ask your doctor the following questions:

  • What type of surgery do you recommend, and why?

  • How long will it take me to recover?

  • What type of implant will you use, and why?

  • How will I look as I recover?

  • What risks are involved?

Find out about your doctor's credentials and overall success rate too. If possible, ask to see before-and-after pictures of other customers.

How to Care for Dental Implants

After surgery, your implants may look and feel like a permanent part of your mouth. Since they're made of metal, they may not transfer pain signals. And they can't decay due to poor care. But you will need to take steps to keep them healthy and in place.

Brush your teeth regularly, floss daily, and use an antibacterial rinse to kill germs. Good oral care like this ensures that your gums stay healthy, and that's critical. Your new teeth need strong connections to the underlying bone, and gums fill that role.

If you notice problems with your implants, such as pain or bleeding, talk to your doctor right away. Studies suggest that customers are just as good as doctors at detecting implant problems. If you think something is wrong, you're probably right.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.